Much-loved San Francisco dance school to close its doors

A well-known and much-loved dance school in San Francisco is closing its doors.  The artistic director and founder of the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Summer Rhatigan, recently announced to her students that the school would close after its summer session in August.

“We're all very, very close, the students and faculty,” Rhatigan said.  “For us, it's not a gig, it's not a job, it's a passion.”

Rhatigan opened the school with her husband in 2004. She said a series of personal events led them to close the school, including the loss of their home in Glen Ellen, which was damaged by the North Bay wildfires.  Rhatigan is a dual U.S./British citizen and the fire accelerated the couple’s plan to retire in Europe.

With dance space limited and expensive in the city, the news comes as a disappointment to many in the dance community. 

“It's just sad because it's your home,” said student Courtney Mazeika, who’s attended classes at the conservatory since 2012. “Summer talks about the greater philosophy of the conservatory and that's more important than the space folding.” 

The school’s two spacious studios are located in a building at Folsom and Eight Streets in the city’s SOMA district.  Rhatigan said there’s no guarantee the new renters will maintain the space as a dance studio. In fact, she said, it could go back to being office space.  

“The school is not a place, it's not a building, it's people. It's an environment,” Rhatigan assured.  She said the dancers who’ve come through the program over the last 14 years are the school’s real legacy.

“I want them to be influential and shape and change for the better the worlds where they dance. It's an adventure to dance and everybody should dance.”